Demetrius and Menander

If Esop’s name at any time
I bring into this measured rhyme,
To whom I’ve paid whate’er I owe,
Let all men by these presents know,
I with th’ old fabulist make free,
To strengthen my authority.
As certain sculptors of the age,
The more attention to engage,
And raise their price, the curious please,
By forging of Praxiteles;
And in like manner they purloin
A Myro to their silver coin.
’Tis thus our fables we can smoke,
As pictures for their age bespoke:
For biting envy, in disgust
To new improvements, favors rust;
But now a tale comes in of course,
Which these assertions will enforce.
Demetrius, who was justly call’d
The tyrant, got himself install’d,
And held o’er Athens impious sway.
The crowd, as ever is the way,
Came, eager rushing far and wide,
And, “Fortunate event!” they cried.
The nobles came, the throne address’d:
The hand by which they were oppress’d
They meekly kiss’d, with inward stings
Of anguish for the face of things.
The idlers also, with the tribe
Of those who to themselves prescribe
Their ease and pleasure, in the end
Came sneaking, lest they should offend.
Amongst this troop Menander hies,
So famous for his comedies.
(Him, though he was not known by sight,
The tyrant read with great delight,
Struck with the genius of the bard.)
In flowing robes bedaub’d with nard,
And saunt’ring tread he came along,
Whom, at the bottom of the throng,
When Phalereus beheld, he said:
“How dares that fribble show his head
In this our presence?” he was told—
“It is Menander you behold.”
Then, changed at once from fierce to bland,
He call’d, and took him by the hand. [more info]

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